Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Harmon, Pray and Detrich, Architects (firm); Robert Carl Detrich (architect); Craig A. Harmon (architect); Roland Gilbert Pray Sr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1970-1971

9 stories

500 4th Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98104-2337

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Overview

The King County Administration Building #2 demonstrated a dense, geometric aesthetic patterned on work pioneered by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Its exterior has proven very controversial, with many disliking the busy, diagonal patterns incised on its skin. Given that it excites deep excitement or disgust, the building is outstanding, and should not be demolished without a reasoned discussion about its merits.

The architecture firm, Harmon, Detrich and Pray also designed Sieg Hall at the University of Washington Seattle Campus, another building with a contoversial exterior appearance.

Building History

In 10/2006, King County Executive Ron Sims hoped to raze the King County, Administration Building #2 and replace it with a 42-story building. Mayor Greg Nickels and his Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis did not support the idea of building a new administrative center over 30 stories or so, as the zoned building height for this part of Downtown Seattle was 340 feet. Ceis,too, advocated the building's demolition, terming it the "ugliest building in downtown Seattle." Aside from its "ugliness," county officials indicated that renovating the building with "entail removal of hazardous asbestos," the cost of which would be "astronomical." Sims floated the idea of having a public-private partnership whereby the County would occupy some floors of a new highrise, while others would be sold privately as condominiums. (See Keith Ervin and Bob Young, "Sims wants tower to replace King County's 'ugly' building," Seattle Times, 10/18/2006, pp. B1, B3.) This plan did not move forward.

PCAD id: 6189